I hate being put on hold. Why is it that the lead-up to many a sashay into Muzak starts as if it’s a question (“would you mind if I put you on hold for a minute?”) which moves so quickly into what Wikipedia describes as “gentle instrumental arrangements of popular music designed for playing in shopping malls, grocery stores, department stores, public toilets, telephone systems (while the caller is on hold), cruise ships, airports, on television shows, doctors’ and dentists’ offices and, of course, elevators” that my response is completely overwhelmed by the strains of Mantovani. By the way – as an aside – if you’re familiar with Muzak and Mantovani then we share some history. Back to my thoughts. As I’ve become older, I’ve also feistier and in some ways less tolerant of the formalities of living that reduce experience for me; formalities like having to endure long bounts of Andre Rieu while the person you were talking to has put you on hold and is talking to somebody that s/he has clearly identified as more worthy of his/her time. Used to go there. Now, as quickly as that flip from conversation to hold takes place I can tap that hang-up button and move on to something that I believe is more worthy of my time. You might be thinking that I’m over-personalizing this, but what – after all – is more personal than my time?
Which brings me to the topic of this missive. Spending daytime workday hours at home is new territory for me. The sounds of a neighbourhood during the workday are quite different from those of the weekend. During the week there’s the buzz of service trucks coming and going; somebody’s having a little roofing done, somebody has a plugged toilet, walls are being painted and gardens are being tended. The weekdays are full of cars going a little bit too fast because somebody’s being rushed off to have a baby or get to a meeting or gym class on time. On the weekend there’s distinctly less traffic and more “homey” sounds; lawnmowers, hedge clippers, and a few remaining ice-cream trucks that will soon be hibernating for the winter.
During the week, the tone of chatter that drifts into my bedroom window from passersby on the sidewalk below is unfamiliar to me as it most often isn’t floating conversations wafting to me in nearly phrased English. The sidewalk’s less multicultural during the week than it is on the weekend; this is a very culturally mixed neighbourhood but it seems that the folks who work here during the week tending our gardens, our children, our homes … well that’s a big more homogenous a group. That was interesting for me to notice.
The interruptions are different. There seem to be fewer people knocking on my door trying to tempt me into everything from buying chocolate-covered almonds to support an organization I’ve never heard of, political campaigners espousing the shortcomings of their opponents because gossip is easier than thinking, problem-solving and talking about solutions, and earnest young people bringing me the comfort of their chosen deity. I guess the folks who want to reach into your heart or your pocket want to come during the hours I’m likely to be home.
Not so the telephone though. It seems to ring more often during the day bringing news of unbeatable, unrepeatable opportunities to save, save, save. Or maybe it isn’t actually ringing more often but when I’m home in the early evening – another popular time for those calls to surge – I’m doing things like cooking or organizing a mess or planning the next day’s work or the next day’s meals; there’s a brief interruption but I can easily slide right back into peeling fava beans or surfing the net for great Rosh Hashana recipes (I was going to ask that if you have any good recipes you’d send them along because I was having trouble getting inspired this year, but the cooking got out of control after finding a recipe for an amazing turkey stuffing with apples, cranberries, dates, and all the usual things and some extremely good sweet-and-sour meat balls. Just send me an e-mail if you’d like me to forward you the recipe. Meanwhile, this will be posted the day before Rosh Hashana, so, if you’ve been cooking too … shana tova u’metuka.
Now when I’m starting to be home during the day – and dreaming of being home more – I find myself reading a good book, doing some writing, preparing a lecture or workshop, or working on that ongoing list of things I’ve wanted to do one day as BJ suggested … things that require my focused attention. The meaningless phone calls during the day are really really irritating. I don’t want to just ignore the phone either, because it might be someone that I want to speak to. It could be my mother calling, or sweet David, or one of my sisters or children or grandchildren or friend I haven’t talked to in a long time like when Rina who I volunteered with in Kosovo called me yesterday afternoon.
I’ve acquiesed. I spent a horrific 40 minutes on-line with Bell Telephone yesterday having call display added to what I apparently already have which is called “my bundle”. When we put call waiting on the phone it was really directed only to the children in the household who, when they were having long conversations with their best friend ever were encumbered with the commitment to put their friends on hold while they checked to see if it was a parent trying to get through to the household and acknowledging that parents trump friends for phone time. Only for that. It was a self-imposed boundary. I’m going to make a commitment about call display to; you will never know that it’s there and when we do engage in a phone conversation I’ll be able to really be in the conversation and not just half-way listening while writing away in fear that the thing I’m thinking about will pfftt away and leave a chasm in place of a thought. Let me know how I do. Also, if you’ve found other ways to not be running to answer junk calls, let me know that too.
Please keep reading: what follows is actually important. I go to a lot of deep-water aquafit classes. When I started taking the classes I was also just starting to think about doing this blog. I spoke to some of the women who exercised with me and who had some experience with retirement. They were really very encouraging. One of them sent me this e-mail a few days ago. I forward it to you with her permission.
My daughter-in-law is a 37-year old mother of two girls, ages 7 and 4, who suffers from a liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, a disease in which the bile ducts in the liver progressively decrease in size due to inflammation and scarring, ultimately damaging the liver. The exact cause is unknown.
Valerie has reached the stage where a transplant is the only treatment option, and the only hope for her survival.
In the words of the transplant team, “casting a wide net” is the most successful way of finding a donor.
Anything you can do to publicize the cause would be most appreciated. And, of course, checking the organ donation option when we renew our health cards is something we all can do for the future.
What follows is the e-mail I received from her daughter-in-law with more information.
Some of you may know that I was diagnosed with a rare liver disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis 11 years ago but have been quite healthy. I noticed a drastic change in my health in the Spring and am now very sick and was placed on the liver transplant list. There is a shortage of organs in Ontario and the average wait for a recipient with my blood type is approximately two years. My liver does not have two years left on it. Why am I telling you all this and bringing you down, you might ask??
The Toronto General Hospital has a living donor program where a person can donate a portion of their liver (if they meet the appropriate criteria) and the liver regenerates. It is major surgery and is not a simple thing. I have struggled with the ethical dilemma of asking others to undergo surgery for my benefit. However, the transplant team has urged me to do so and repeatedly told me to, in their words, “cast my net wide”. Hundreds of people die waiting for an organ. TGH does more living donor transplants than anyone in the world. I have attached the living donation manual that explains the procedure to a potential donor, as well as the health form an interested party fills in to begin the assessment process. To begin assessment you only need to know your blood type (I can accept “O” and “A” positive or negative). Please feel no pressure as I know this is a difficult decision with a variety of factors to consider. On the other hand, if this is something you feel you can do, please contact the transplant team at the numbers given in the literature. I have listed some websites that may be helpful in understanding the process as well as my particular disease which is often referred to as “PSC”. Please forward this widely and my family and I thank you.
Valerie, Jason, Rayne, and Ever
Click here to download Information for Donors.
Other information links:
(This is specific info on Valerie’s condition).
If you’re able to help Valerie, or just want some information, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll forward your messasge to her.